A Weekend Beach Cleaning The Slate Islands – 4 Islands in 4 Days!

The Slate Islands

The Slate Islands, heavily enriched with deposits of slate rock, are often referred to as ‘the islands that roofed the world’. The slate industry was one of Scotland’s biggest industries in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. They are also known for the ‘The Bridge over the Atlantic’, beautiful landscapes, water filled quarries, and the world stone skimming championships and as we soon discovered on arrival, the Scarecrow festival!

Despite the Slate Islands being less than half an hour’s drive from Oban the roads were quiet. It felt like we had stumbled across a real slice of Scottish paradise.

Of course, while it was easily to appreciate the beauty of the area, we were there to clean some beaches and were eager to get started!


We arrived on Seil and some of the crew joined our boat Stroma A to scope out the area. We beach cleaned along the western side of the island and some of the smaller islands nearby. Others crossed over to Luing on the ferry to meet up with residents Jack and Emily Cadzow. We met at their beautiful pods ‘Wildluing’, in which one of our volunteers, who uses a wheelchair, was staying.

slate islands


The following day we focused on Luing and we were joined by Jack Cadzow, who was able to show us areas that needed more attention. This was mostly situated on the southern and western areas of the island. Using a quad bike (which Jack had kindly adapted for our wheelchair using friend to use) and trailer, we worked northwards along a 7km stretch of coastline, picking up a variety of washed in marine litter.

The boat also joined us, and we were able to use the dingy to get into areas that were too difficult for the quad and load items to be taken to Stroma. Later in the day, we were met by other volunteers, who were working southwards.

SCCU volunteer

We picked up plenty of different things and a huge fishing net filled up one trailer load alone. We also retrieved a massive bit of polystyrene and lots of plastic single use bottles, alongside a large amount of fishing rope.

The following day we were back on the boat and visited some areas that had been suggested by locals on Seil. The team managed to collect a large amount of rubbish. We also collected 4 very large buoys to ‘reunite’ with their owner and a huge length of plastic piping.

The Results

During our time on the islands we removed over 1.5t of marine litter.

Our visit to the Slate Islands reinforced the importance of working together with the local community, in order to achieve maximum results with our beach cleans.

The SCCU team want to say a huge thank you Sue from the Seil rowing club, for lots of great information about areas to focus on (and a delicious lunch). Thank you to Wildluing and the Cadzow family, who were happy to work alongside us, provided us with excellent local knowledge, gave us access to equipment, and helped us with the logistics of getting the collected rubbish off the island.

If you know of any area of coastline that might need some extra attention, either due to its remote location or accessibility, then please get in touch by emailing kerrie@caledonianenvironmental.co.uk

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